The Nintendo Switch finally allows for digital game sharing

4 min read


Nintendo’s Online service has launched, finally bringing with it many of the oft-requested features – like cloud save backups. I’ve just saved my own Breath of the wild and super Mario Odyssey saves to the cloud, and it feels like a giant weight off my shoulders. The online service also brings with it a library of NES games, all launched from a single app. I have to admit it’s a super slick service, though I’m not sure how much time I’ll be spending playing NES games.

One other side effect of all of this and the new 6.0 firmware update is that Nintendo finally allows for game sharing between two Switch consoles. Of course, the use case for this is for households with more than one Switch system. Traditionally, you’d have to purchase software for both systems, or buy your games on cartridges if you planned to share a game between two devices. Now, there’s a system in place that uses primary and non-primary consoles, similar to how game sharing is done on the PS4. There is one caveat though; if you’re busy playing a game on one console, and somebody plays the same game on another, the game will pause. Of course, if the primary console happens to be offline then that may not happen.

Nintendo’s laid out how it all works on a support page, with the following key points:

Primary Console:

  • You can have one primary console at a time for your Nintendo Account.
  • The first Nintendo Switch console you use to connect to Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch will become your primary console.
  • While using the primary console, any user account on the console can play the downloadable content you have purchased.
  • While using the primary console, you do not need to have an active Internet connection while playing downloadable software.
    • An Internet connection is still required to use online features or games which require a subscription service.
  • You can change which Nintendo Switch console is your primary console but you must first deactivate the current primary console.
Read  PSA: The CRT filter on the Switch’s NES games can cause temporary image retention

Non-Primary Console:

  • A Nintendo Account can be linked to Nintendo Switch consoles that are not designated as the primary console, however, some functionality differs from when a Nintendo Account is used on a primary console.
  • While using a non-primary console, you can still use the Nintendo Account to access the Nintendo eShop, purchase and download software, and under certain conditions, play your downloadable software.
  • While using a non-primary console, you must have an active Internet connection to play downloadable content.
    • If you lose your Internet connection while playing downloadable content on a non-primary console, your game will pause after a certain amount of time; however, once you connect online again, you will be able to resume from the point you left off.
  • While using a non-primary console, downloadable content can only be started by the user that purchased the content.
  • When using downloadable software on a non-primary console, your game will pause if your Nintendo Account is used to access downloadable software on any other Nintendo Switch console.

In effect, it’s most similar to Steam’s library sharing, though slightly more restrictive. Still, for a company that’s usually so backwards with this sort of thing, it’s a great step forward.

Last Updated: September 19, 2018

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

Check Also

The Room (Switch) Review – A Myst opportunity

Fireproof Games' The Room remains an engaging, clever puzzle game. It's a delight to uncov…